20 of the Most Important Things You Should Know About Your Church

Below you will find what I believe to be 20 very important, if not the most important things you should know about your church. Keep in mind these are things to measure about your church as an organization.  (This is NOT the top things to measure in terms of individual spiritual formation.)  I have told pastors for a long time I wouldn’t consider pastoring again unless I had the congregation’s commitment to measure these 20 things every two years.

But first the backstory…

For the last 12 years, the Auxano team has developed, used and refined a survey designed completely around the culture, vision  and strategic mid-term decision-making priorities of the church. I have led this process by turning over and inside out every possible church survey I could find. After about five years I felt like we had a good template to start with as we helped local churches with their specific needs and challenges.

We  have never advertised and I have never even blogged about this product. Why?  Despite its incredible benefit to our church clients we did not have the capacity to offer the service to churches unless they were engaged in our core experience called the Vision Pathway. The desire to bring this to more churches eventually led me to LifeWay Research. We have worked with them over the past year to bring the best survey to local churches that has ever been designed for YOUR LOCAL CHURCH.

Here is what we measure:

#1: Percent of new attenders in prior two years

#2: Guest percentage

#3: Profile of new attenders and guest including reason for attending

#4 Age of the church vs. age of the community

#5 Age of church vs. the age of new attenders in the prior two years

#6 Spiritual growth satisfaction

#7 Sense of connection to the church

#8 Giving patterns

#9 Adult conversion percentage

#10 Influence of ministries

#11 Group assimilation percentage

#12 Group assimilation obstacle identification

#13 Assimilation rate for groups and membership (if applicable)

#14 Serving assimilation percentage

#15 Serving assimilation obstacles

#16 Invitation activity

#17 Invitation obstacles

#18 Total assimilation percentages

#19 Strategic direction question cluster one

#20 Strategic direction question cluster two

What other things would you include on this list? The tool we use to get this info is what we call the RealTime Survey. Feel free to download our PDF about the survey by clicking here.

If you are interested in learning more, fill out this form and I’ll make sure one of my team reaches out to you.

 

Read more from Will here

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Build for Team Alignment, not Individual Achievement

Does your church have a vague or undefined strategy, and therefore your leaders are inventing their own?

Auxano Founder Will Mancini believes that over 90% of churches in North America are not functioning with strategic clarity. Many churches have some kind of expression for mission and values, but not for strategy. The absence of strategy, as Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church.

This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits to advance the mission.

When you don’t have a strategy, or your strategy isn’t clear, a threefold problem can occur:

  • too many ministry or program options and no prioritization;
  • ministry options that have no relationship with one another;
  • ministries themselves have no connection to the mission.

Having a clear map – one that shows how you will get things done – is a strong indicator that the effectiveness of your mission will go through the roof. Strategic clarity can birth a quantum leap in your ministry.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Execution is the Strategy, by Laura Stack

In today’s world of rapid, disruptive change, strategy can’t be separate from execution—it has to emerge from execution. You must continually adjust your strategy to fit new realities. But, if your organization isn’t set up to be fast on its feet, you could easily go the way of Blockbuster or Borders.

Laura Stack shows you how to quickly drive strategic initiatives and get great results from your team. Her LEAD Formula outlines the Four Keys to Successful Execution:

  • The ability to Leverage your talent and resources
  • Design an Environment to support an agile culture
  • Create Alignment between strategic priorities and operational activities
  • Drive the organization forward quickly

She includes a leadership team assessment, group reading guides, and bonus self-development resources. Stack will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to help you hit the ground running! 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

If members of your team are working hard but have lost focus of the mission of your organization, you are facing a double threat: your overall mission is not being accomplished and your team members are likely heading toward burnout.

The most successful team members work together for more than a paycheck or for keeping busy. They are engaged in the mission, and feel that they are an important part of achieving that mission. They are serving with a sense and purpose of something that is greater.

On the other hand, team members who have lost focus on the mission of the organization may just be going though the motions of working together. When this occurs, the organization is entering a danger zone.

Even those who work the hardest will inevitably crash and burn in their productivity if they lose track of the mission. Help them reorient and align themselves if they’ve lost their focus on their mission with a 4-R Reconnection Strategy.

Reestablish awareness. Have team members evaluate their current positions by asking, “Which of my activities contribute most of my value to my organization.” If they can’t answer that, have them invest personal time in figuring out where they got off course and how they might fix it.

Realign them. Make sure the mission and their perception of it match up. If your team becomes misaligned, they may be wasting time on the wrong things. If that is the case, it doesn’t matter how hard they work to get the job done; their productivity will crash.

Repair their connection. Once your team members know where they are and where they should be, have them make any necessary course corrections. After that, help them tweak or overhaul their workflow process to get it back on track and in sync with the mission.

Rededicate them to the mission. Have the team members reaffirm their commitment to your organization. Help them understand how each contributes to the collective effort to move the organization forward.

Laura Stack, Execution IS the Strategy 

A NEXT STEP

Using the Four-R process above, realign your leadership team to the mission of the church.

First, write “Our Mission” on the top of a flip chart page and hand every person a sticky note. Without looking at phones, tablets, or printed materials, have each leader write the mission of the church from memory on a sticky note. Place all the notes on the flip chart page. Discuss the results, noting the degree (or lack of) shared knowledge of the church’s mission. (Remember Howard Hendricks’ ageless quote: if it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pew.)

Now write the actual mission on another flip chart page, and with a renewed focus on the missional mandate of the church, have each leader write ministry activities that CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission on one color sticky note and ministry activities that while good, DO NOT CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission.

How can your leaders help each other to focus activity toward mission accomplishment? How can you learn from each other and lean toward God’s calling for the church? Record some specific initiatives and next steps on a third flip-chart page, assigning responsibility to a team member.


 

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 38-1, issued April 2016

 


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
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What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Signs Your Team is Getting Along But Not Going Anywhere

Healthy teams are both aligned and attuned. Alignment refers to the commitment to the mission and identity of the organization. Attunement refers to the relational care and concern that the team exhibits for one another. Both are essential. In this post I wrote about warning signs your team is aligned but not attuned. Today I want to offer three warning signs your team is attuned but not aligned:

1. Fuzzy mission

Without alignment around mission, people begin to only exist for each other and not those the team is designed to serve. When a team is not aligned, the mission is unclear or buried on a document somewhere. When alignment is missing, a sense of mission is missing as well. The result is actions and activity disconnected from a sense of “this is why we exist.”

2. Low accountability

When a team has a compelling mission and a deep-seated conviction that “this mission must be accomplished,” accountability will likely be high. But because accountability can be uncomfortable, a team not aligned around an overarching agenda will fail to offer it. Conviction and mission foster expectations and accountability. When a team is not aligned, expectations are low. Low expectations always result in low accountability.

3. Results?

Attunement without alignment results in people who enjoy each other but don’t accomplish much. In fact, a team attuned to one another but not united around a grand mission will rarely evaluate their impact. Why would they? Though they may never say, “Results? That is not why we exist,” collectively they believe it.

If a fuzzy mission, low accountability, or failure to evaluate results plagues your team, engagement in and alignment around an overarching mission must be ramped up. And wise leaders know mission drift is inevitable unless it is constantly clarified and communicated.

> Read more from Eric.


If you would like to learn more about team alignment and attunement, start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Great Vision, Bad Execution: 6 Common Mistakes

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Eight Reasons You Are Wasting Your Resources

Most churches keep their members so busy they don’t have time to do ministry.

Indeed, I spoke to a lay elder of a church recently who told me he simply did not have time to get to know his neighbors because he was so busy in his church.

Something is not right with this picture.

In an earlier post, I talked about how our churches can become more intentional about doing real ministry instead of busy work. But in this article, I address how churches became so busy. Perhaps understanding the origins of dysfunctional busyness will help churches avoid this problem in the future.

  1. Activities became synonymous with ministry. I am familiar with a missions support group in a church. It includes over 30 people, representing over 20 percent of the weekly worship attendance. The group is very active with fellowships, meetings, and speaker events. But the missions support group has never supported missions, nor have they ever been involved in missions. But they sure are busy.
  2. Programs and ministries are added regularly, but few or none are ever deleted. This reality is glaringly obvious at a church in the Southeast with an average attendance of 60. The church has 15 committees and nearly 30 different programs and ministries throughout the year. They almost have one ministry or program for every member. They add some activity every year, but they never delete the dead or useless activities.
  3. Programs and ministries become sacred cows. They were once the pet project of a particular member or a group of members, alive or deceased. The thought of eliminating the non-functional ministry started by Sister Harriett or Brother Frank 35 years ago is deemed blasphemous.
  4. The alignment question is not asked on the front end. Even a good ministry may not be the best use of time for a church. In one church, the membership voted to initiate a ministry because one person had become a believer through the ministry in another church over a two-year period. But the church members never considered if there might be other ministries that could be more effective and better aligned with the direction of the church.
  5. Silo behavior among the different ministries of the church. A worship ministry in the church began a new ministry that required extensive volunteer help. But the leaders never considered they were hurting other ministries in the church. Members don’t have unlimited time; they have to make choices.
  6. Lack of an evaluation process. Most churches have an annual budgetary process. That is an ideal time to ask tough questions about existing ministries and programs. Very few church leaders take that opportunity.
  7. Ministry becomes facility-centered. In other words, if it’s not happening in the church facilities, it’s not “real” ministry. As a consequence, we keep our members too busy to do ministry outside the walls of the church.
  8. Lack of courageous leadership. It takes courage for a leader to look at the busyness of a church and say “no” or “enough.” Some leaders would rather not rock the boat and, as a consequence, lead a church toward mediocrity and malaise.

We are wasting too much time, energy, and money in our churches. Often we are doing more things and becoming less effective. It’s time for busy churches to become simple churches.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn how to avoid wasting your resources.


> Read more from Thom.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Reasons Why Disciples Need Ministry Tools More Than Sermons

The discipleship results of your ministry are not defined by content of your preaching alone.  One significant factor that impacts disciple-making is tool-making.  Unfortunately, you might not recall any seminary classes or conference breakouts on making ministry tools.

Why not? The simplest explanation is that we rely too much on teaching. As a result, we as pastors, do not become good at training and spend little time on toolmaking. In fact the average pastor rarely pursues improved competency as a trainer. But pastors go to great lengths— attending workshops, digesting sermons, and reading books— to become better preachers. 

Think about it for a minute: Is your church better characterized as a teaching center or a training center? Do you consider yourself more of a bible-communicator or a people-developer? When is the last time you thought about finding or making ministry tools?

I know what you want to say— “It’s both Will, why would you separate it?” Of course your intent is both to communicate well and see a disciple form as a result.  But I want to separate the two so that you can double check your assumptions and expectations about how people change and grow. Does your teaching provide the pathway toward the modeling, practicing, and evaluating of new life skills? Are you really helping people develop new life competencies in the way of Jesus?  Or are you just preaching?

One proof that you are good at training is the presence of ministry tools. What tools have you given to people lately through one of your sermon series? When was the last time you brainstormed with your team about a new ministry tool to create? If you have small group leaders in the church, what ministry tools have you provided for them in the last year?

What’s the bottom line? If you are not adding ministry tools to the lives of your people, you are not close to maximizing a disciple-making culture. You are probably not equipping people that much.

Before explaining why, let’s define what we mean by a tool. One definition reads:

Tool: A handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task. The basic definition brings to mind a hammer or screwdriver that you hold in your hand. The definition may expand if a tool doesn’t have to be literally handheld. Another definition reads: a device or implement used to carry out a particular function.

The term “device” broadens the range for disciple-making purposes. For example, the model prayer of Jesus was a device to train the disciples how to pray. Jesus used questions, metaphors and parables as devices or tools of disciple-making that weren’t “handheld” per se.

So what are examples of ministry tools? Here are five:

  • A church does a sermon on praying and provides a prayer journal (ministry tool) as people walk out the door.
  • A pastor preaches on missional living and creates a table tent (ministry tool- a triangle-shaped brochure that stands in the middle of the dinner table)  for family conversations designed to encourage the application of being better neighbors for the sake of the gospel.
  • A team codifies a definition (ministry tool) of what kind of disciple their church is designed to produce and then creates a self-assessment (ministry tool) to use in small groups.
  • A pastor uses a 4-question, gospel fluency matrix (ministry tool) –drawable on a napkin–to help the congregation apply the gospel to the daily fluctuations of sinful emotions and actions.
  • A bible study leader passes out a business card (ministry tool) with a daily bible reading schedule and three applications questions to ask for every passage of scripture.

This is a short list that begins to illustrate the endless possibilities of ministry tools. Keep in mind that I didn’t even reference the internet or digital devices that really explode the possibilities ministry tool-making.

Now that we have defined and illustrated what a ministry tool or device is, let’s get to the heart of the post. Why do disciples need ministry tools more than sermons? Why should we not rely on preaching alone if we are to train people to follow Jesus?  Here are five compelling reasons:

#1 – A ministry tool signifies importance.  A tool highlights the greater importance of the idea thus setting it up for application and helping stand out among the competing messages in every area of life. When a tool is introduced in the flow of communication, the idea behind the tool will trump every other idea. The tool immediately indicates the value of repeatability as well.

#2 – A ministry tool activates learning. A tool utilizes a part of human brain that is activated by a concrete object to hold and use, or an audio device to return to like a question or repeatable story. Again this sets up an important step toward application. It engages visual and kinesthetic learners.

#3 – A ministry tool guides application. This is the main idea. The tool itself provides a “how to” that can be practiced, repeated and eventually mastered. It shows the way and validates when action has been taken or not.  The device clarifies a step of implementation. In a way, a tool gently brings accountability to the table–every time I see the tool, I know whether or not I have used it.

#4 – A ministry tool creates energy. A tool helps people feel excited about ideas. It helps people win. And by the way, may pastors can unintentionally create a sense of failure for their people.  As people listen to sermons year after year, they oftentimes feel like they aren’t growing like they should. A tool can reverse that dynamic. It’s focuses application, so they can do it. And that gives pastors the opportunity to celebrate their new skill development. Then, even more energy is created!

#5 – A ministry tool reproduces training. A tool makes every person a trainer not just the pastor or preacher. As a leader, it’s not important what you can do; it’s important what you can duplicate. If you make a tool, it can outlast you and be passed from disciple to disciple to disciple until Jesus returns again.

This last principle has changed by personal conviction that I must spend time to make tools. In fact my two most important books (tools themselves) are Church Unique an God Dreams each of which cover how to create a master tool for church leadership, the Vision Frame and the Horizon Storyline, respectively.

I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite ministry tool? What ministry tools have you created recently?

A final illustration of one of my favorites is a how-to PDF and video on creating a family tree. This tool comes from a short sermon series at Clear Creek Community Church, my home church. To help people gain perspective and apply the gospel to the brokenness of extended family dynamics, they encouraged everyone to practice writing out their family diagram.

> Read more from Will.


Would you like to learn more about the ministry tools? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Is Your Church Making the Same Mistake Over and Over Again?

It’s one thing to make mistakes in leadership.

It’s another to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Any idea what your frequent mistakes might be?

And if you have mistakes that you make, why do you keep making the same ones over and over again?

One of the reasons many leaders and organizations repeatedly make the same mistakes is because our actions spring from our viewpoint, viewpoints that in fact may be wrong.

Get the viewpoint wrong and the actions follow.

As you’ll see from the list below, the mistakes I see church leaders make repeatedly spring from a view point that can best be described this way:

What we do in the church doesn’t really matter.

The reality is nothing could be further from the truth. What we do in the church matters incredibly, because the church actually is, as Bill Hybels says, the hope of the world.

If the church has the most important mission on earth, behave like it.

But so many churches don’t.

Here are 5 mistakes I see over and over again.

1. Thinking cheap

Too often in church, leaders carry a dollar store mindset. Get as much as you can for as little as you can and you win.

But do you?

What leaders miss is that cheap has a cost. In fact, in the long run, it’s actually more expensive.

First, you end up with inferior products, whether that’s furniture, technology or even ministry (Here, leader…do world class children’s ministry on $140 a year).  Cheap things break earlier and more easily, and you end up replacing them frequently. So often, you don’t even save much money.

Cheap even translates to team.

Paying church staff poorly is not only unbiblical, it’s stupid. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Do I think you should pay outrageous salaries to church leaders? Absolutely not. But you should pay people a living wage.

If you want a radically different view on why non-profits shouldn’t be cheap on salaries, Dan Pallotta makes a powerful case for decent pay in the non-profit sector.

Why do some church leaders want to underfund the most important ministry on earth?

2. Starting late

I’ve been to numerous church services and events that regularly start late, after the published start time.

Why?

Maybe it’s just me, but that just oozes “Hey, what we’re doing doesn’t matter much…and we don’t really value your time.”

Some people got their kids up early, made breakfast, showered quickly and fought traffic to show up on time. When you start late, you dishonour all their effort.

I know some church leaders think they want to wait until ‘everyone is here.’ Well guess what? No matter what time you begin, people will always wander in late.

We had an ‘everyone shows up ten minutes late’ problem a few years ago. Rather than start late, we actually told people to arrive on time and then put some of the best, most creative elements in the first 5 minutes of the service.

When people showed up late, we told them “Man, it’s too bad you missed it.” That was it. We never apologized.

Guess what happened? We went from 30% of people being present when the service started to about 70% of people being present when the service started.

It’s amazing what happens when you provide great value on time. People show up.

The other 30%? Too bad they missed it….

3. Deciding it’s good enough

Even if you invest some money in ministry, too many church leaders behave as though a moderate effort is good enough.

As Jim Collins has famously pointed out, bad is not the enemy of great (because that’s obvious). Good is the enemy of great.

A ‘good enough’ attitude can create a false sense of satisfaction, leaving a meaningful part of both your mission and potential unfulfilled.

That’s why I love that at Connexus Church, where I serve, one of our stated values is ‘Battle Mediocrity.’

I love that phrase because first of all, ‘mediocrity’ names ‘good enough’ for what it is—massively unsatisfying mediocrity. Second, ‘battle’ is a call to arms. This is a fight, and mediocre has to die. (I teach on battling mediocrity in this talk.)

God didn’t decide his work was good enough, so why should the church? He gave his best. His all. He threw the full force of his majesty not just into creation, but into redemption.

Strangely, many people will give 100% to the marketplace, a hobby or their family, and then give 60% when they serve God. Makes no sense. At all.

4. Choosing easy over effective

Being effective as a leader is difficult. Which is why it’s so easy for leaders to settle when so much more is possible.

Being effective means you dig in when others retreat. It means you ask the 11th question when everyone else stopped at ten. It means you wake up early and sometimes stay up late trying to figure out how to do better.

It means you call out the best in people and ask them to bring their best energy, focus and skill to advancing the mission of the church.

That’s effective.

And it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

5. Thinking that conversations like these are  unspiritual

Some leaders understand why conversations like these matter to the church. But there are always some who don’t.

In some circles, talking strategy is seen as ‘unspiritual.’ Instead, the goal is to not get too concerned with strategy and just try to keep everybody happy. Or to pray about things and maybe they’ll just get better.

The best prayer is rooted in action. Praying about forgiveness when you’re unwilling to forgive is pointless.

Praying for your church if you’re unwilling to act on it doesn’t make any sense either.

If we believe God is the author of our hearts, minds, souls, strength and gifts, then we should be willing to lend all of the above to further the mission.

I outline 7 other key issues the church needs to tackle in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, I’d love to know some of the mistakes you see churches make again and again.

Read more from Cary.


Auxano can help you get things done. Find out more about our Execution consulting service.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

8 Steps Toward a Successful Church Revitalization

There is one type of church revitalization that is more successful than all others. The church closes its doors for a season, and then re-opens, usually with a new name and new leadership. I know this approach is not an option for most of you, so I gathered data from the “other” category. This category includes churches that kept the same name and, for the most part, the same leadership.

Keep in mind, this information is not a step-by-step guide to revitalization. We offer that resource periodically. Make certain you are on our email list, and we will let you know the next time that training opens.

As I gathered the information for successful revitalizations, I noted eight common characteristics that took place in most of the congregations. Unfortunately, many leaders are not willing to make all the sacrifices these characteristics suggest. Those who will make the sacrifices, however, are often seeing blessings beyond what they anticipated.

  1. The pastor formed an alliance of key influencers in the church. This group is not informal, nor is it closed to others. It begins when the pastor identifies those in the church whose voices are most effective in leading others toward change. I cannot remember a revitalization effort that succeeded without an alliance.
  2. The alliance of influencers recognized the need for church revitalization and made a commitment to pray for it daily. Please don’t let the last part of the preceding sentence escape your notice. Each of the influencers committed to daily prayer for revitalization. They realized it could not take place in their power alone.
  3. The leaders and a growing number in the congregation made a commitment to move the church to look more like the community. Such a commitment naturally involves an outward focus, because declining churches are not reaching all segments of their communities. The leadership within the church begins to look at the demographics of their community. They are willing to face reality on where the church is falling short.
  4. The church began to confront the issue of sacred cows. I know of one church that had a two-hour “town hall” meeting of the members of the congregation. The leaders made a list of every preference and church activity they could recall. For example, one of the items on the list was “11 am worship.” They then labeled each activity as either biblically essential, contextual, or traditional.
  5. The leadership began to work with the congregation to form a clear and compelling vision. One church, an all Anglo congregation, cast a vision to have 20 percent Hispanics in the worship attendance in one year because the community was 40 percent Hispanic. They did not reach 20 percent in year one, but they did in year two.
  6. The leadership communicated a sense of urgency. One of the simplest yet most powerful communications of urgency I’ve heard is: “We change or we die.” Too many congregations are choosing to die because of their unwillingness to change.
  7. The leadership, particularly the pastor, was willing to endure a season of intense criticism. This point is often where revitalization efforts end. The critics can get nasty, and the criticisms can become intense. Many people simply get mad at the idea of change.
  8. The leadership of the church was willing to let go of members. I have never known a successful revitalization effort where members did not leave. Few leaders like to see members leave, but some churches have a “back door revival” before true revitalization can take place.

Nine of ten churches are either declining or growing so slowly they are not keeping up with the growth of the community. Many churches are just a few years away from dying and closing. Revitalization is an urgent need.

> Read more from Thom here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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Carolyn vines — 06/17/15 6:31 pm

I was on a committee that closed churches. It killed me that we could close a church one week and the next week it would open with a different name and different denomination and cars would be parked up and down the street. Why? Why? Why?

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Scheduling: An Active Way to Pursue Obedience to Jesus

I have grown to love my personal calendar.

I know different people treat their time in different ways; I’ve found that I thrive most in a structured environment. So I’ve tried in the last few months to take a more proactive role in structuring my time, particularly at work. Rather than simply having a “to do” list of tasks, I have begun to transfer those tasks to blocks of time on my schedule. So I break the day into segments, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes an hour, and assign particular tasks for that given period of time.

For some tasks, it means multiple blocks of that time during the week. I might devote an hour on Monday, then another on Tuesday, then 30 more minutes on Friday. And at the end of each day, I evaluate the remaining days in the week and adjust the blocks of time according to what I was able to accomplish during that day… and as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that it sounds pretty obsessive. Maybe even a little compulsive to go along with it.

For me, though, this is more than a helpful time management practice; it actually has a spiritual component to it.

From time to time, I feel overwhelmed when faced with a laundry list of things that have to be done. I start to worry about the time it will take to get it all done; I begin to feel anxiety about what’s before me. And when I do that, I have to realize that my worry and anxiety is not only unhealthy; it’s actually disobedient:

“Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25).

So said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He continued to hold up birds and wildflowers as those God provides for, making the point that we, as His children are much more valuable then these things. Then Jesus reminds us that worry and anxiety over the stuff of life is the characteristic of idolaters:

“…the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you. therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:32-34).

It’s that last statement that gets me – tomorrow has enough troubles of its own. My problem is that I tend to bring the worries of tomorrow into today. But this is also the point where keeping a schedule can actually be of great aid in our obedience to the command of Jesus to be free of worry.

If we are proactive in time management, scheduling out time can help us leave the worries of tomorrow until tomorrow. So, for example, let’s say you have a massive project you have to get done at work, and you find yourself disobediently worrying about getting it all done. But you very much want to obey what Jesus said. Perhaps a practical step in the right direction would be to break up that project into smaller chunks and then schedule time into the next several weeks to accomplish each one.

You have task 1 to do on Monday. You don’t have to worry about task 2 because you know you’ve already allocated time to get that done on Tuesday. So you move forward, one step at a time, treating the day you have before you as a single day, and you’re able to put down the phone and lay your head on the pillow knowing that tomorrow you can do the exact same thing. The point of the exercise, though, is more than finding a way to get things done; it’s an active way to pursue obedience to Jesus.

And I’m finding more and more that these small, seemingly insignificant choices are the nuts and bolts of what it means to truly follow Him.

> Read more from Michael.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Disconnect Between Principles and Practices at Your Church

One of the most glaring divides in the life of many churches is the divide between principles and practices.

A principle is an understanding about how to do things; a fundamental truth about the way things ought to be. A practice, of course, is what you actually do – and ideally, as a result of a guiding principle.

Here’s the breakdown: a leader will know a principle, espouse a principle, even believe they are following a principle, but in reality (practice) they are not.

For example, I’ll talk to a church leader who will say something like, “Our services are designed for people to invite their unchurched friends to attend.” That is a principle: weekend services should be designed to be a front-door to those who are relationally far from God.

But that has teeth. It means opening the front door to someone who is spiritually illiterate, pluralistic and self-absorbed. They are simultaneously confused and dogmatic, open and closed, seeking and complacent. They have little if any background in worship (much less liturgy), religious buzz-words, theology or the Bible.

They are lost.

So when it comes to the “practice,” you would think the service they are forming around that principle would reflect who they are trying to reach. But too often it doesn’t. There may be a few cosmetic changes, but nothing substantive. There is no real sensitivity being shown toward, or cultural bridge being built to, the unchurched.

This is just one example of a breakdown.

A church might say, “We are all about children. We want to turn kids on to church, not turn them off. We want to make church and the Bible come alive and be fun!”

But five minutes into their children’s ministry, the kid wants to go home. It wasn’t kid-friendly, or particularly kid-informed, at all.

A church might say, “We are a friendly church. We are warm and welcoming.”

But five minutes through the doors and it’s clear that they are friendly to people they know, friendly to people they like, or simply friendly to people like them. They are not friendly; they are a clique.

  • We throw around words like contemporary, relevant and practical but seem divorced from what that really means to the person needing it to be contemporary, relevant and practical.
  • We talk of reaching a post-Christian culture, but seem only aware of the Christian sub-culture in which we inhabit.
  • We speak of mission and vision, strategy and DNA, but seem unaware of what ours actually embodies.
  • We talk of conversion growth when we functionally are focused on transfer growth; being contemporary when we are models of throwback Thursday; reaching the next generation when we are slowly aging out as a body.

So why the seemingly clueless gap between principle and practice? I think there are at least four reasons:

1. We have a natural default mode that we fall into. For example, when it comes to outreach, the default for most is to speak to the already convinced. The power of a principle is that it leads us away from how we might normally act. But if we are not intentional about the principle, we’ll go with our natural flow. And our natural flow is not to those outside of our doors, but those who are already inside.

2. We’re not serious about the principle. We give lip service to principles because they sound good, make us look good, make us seem on a cutting edge, but it never translates into action (read, “change”). As a result, we are like a resounding gong or clanging cymbal (I Corinthians 13), or maybe more to the point, hearers of the word only (James 1).

3. We have a terrible blind spot fed by pride. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard a leader say, “I don’t need to spend time on children’s ministry. We’ve got that one down. What I need to know is, ….” But (as mentioned above) five minutes exposure to their children’s ministry, and it’s clear they desperately need to spend time on it. Everyone has blind spots but if they are based on pride, they will stay blind spots for a very long time.

4. We’ve been schooled on various principles, but not on the practices that should follow. This is key. Conferences and books are filled with principles, but you need to see working models, hear actual messages, to really “get” the practice side of things. You can talk about messages, music and atmospheres being oriented toward the “nones” all day long, but it takes seeing it, feeling it, experiencing it actually happen for a clear picture to form in your mind.

Espousing a principle without fleshing it out in practice is no different than having no principles at all.

> Read more from James here.


Are you ready for principles and practices that are in alignment? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.